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I Belong


Review: Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

November 20th, 2014 @ 12:05 am
Posted by Kristie under Dark Faerie Tales Launch Tags: Blue Lily Lily Blue, Fantasy, Maggie Stiefvater, Raven Cycle Series, Review, Young Adult

Blue Lily Lily BlueTitle: Blue Lily, Lily Blue

Author: Maggie Stiefvater

Genre: YA Paranormal

Series: The Raven Cycle (Book #3)

Publication Date: October 21, 2014

Format: Hardcover, 391 Pages

ISBN-10: 0545424968 (Scholastic)

ISBN-13: 978-0545424967 (Scholastic)

Reviewed by: Michelle

Synopsis:

There is danger in dreaming. But there is even more danger in waking up.

Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs.

The trick with found things though, is how easily they can be lost.

Friends can betray.

Mothers can disappear.

Visions can mislead.

Certainties can unravel.

Quick & Dirty: A dangerously addictive read in magic, myth, and love.

Opening Sentence: Persephone stood on the bare mountaintop, her ruffled ivory dress whipping around her legs, her masses of white-blond curls streaming behind her.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater is the third, and in my opinion highly anticipated, book of The Raven Cycle series. After reading The Dream Thieves, and that amazing ending, a reader who follows the series can’t help but die for this book. And as I was given early access by the awesome people at Scholastic, I couldn’t contain my enthusiasm. But let me be truthful – I was filled with anxiety over Blue Lily, Lily Blue. Let me tell you why. And I will attempt to not reveal anything filled with spoilers, but it may not be so easy. Fair warning to you.

Blue Lily, Lily Blue begins shortly after where The Dream Thieves left off. Many secrets have been revealed, and Adam, Ronan, Gansey, and Noah are all in the thick of the mystery of Cabeswater. New characters are introduced, and some mentioned by name only. Diabolical plots thicken, added with delicious twists and turns. “Friends can betray. Mothers can disappear. Visions can mislead. Certainties can unravel.” That is the perfect summary of Blue Lily, Lily Blue. Going in, you cannot assume you know what is about to happen, because when you least expect it, Stiefvater will just change it on you.

Blue Sargent finally tells her story, at least the story that I as a reader was dying for. Blue has the sass of a southern belle, but the snark of someone much more. Her upbringing is the perfect flavor for her personality, and her loyalty is unmeasurable. I love who Blue represents and how she becomes a foundation for The Raven Boys. She shines in this book, and I got to see much more of who she really is.

While each book has thus far showcased a specific character, the world that each book has revolved around also changes. With The Raven Boys, we had the introduction of Henrietta, Cabeswater, and the ley line. With The Dream Thieves, we delve further into the ley line, but also are introduced to the world within dreams. And with Blue Lily, Lily Blue, we learn about something darker that ties in all the previous places. 300 Fox Way isn’t just an address, but it’s a world entirely on its own. As for the rest of Blue Lily, Lily Blue, the setting is no longer about a place, but more of a what. As a reader, I got a larger picture of the world; definitely much larger than the characters or the reader has known so far. Every little bit of information within Blue Lily, Lily Blue revealed so much more. Darker? Yes. A little terrifying? Definitely. Awesome? Oh yes.

Stiefvater knows how to write a story, the world and its culture, and the characters that belong in them. Each character, from Gansey and Adam, to Ronan, Noah, and Blue, have all played an integral part of the series. We have different point-of-views from the characters, but it was never too much or too little. They all had their parts to play in this obsession that we have become to love as The Raven Cycle. As a reader, I have become to know these characters. As a fan, I have learned to live with these characters. And as someone who reads, I have pictured every detail pertaining to this story that I cannot even fathom a moment without it.

Blue Lily, Lily Blue surprised me. I was fortunate enough to have the time to reread The Raven Boys and The Dream Boys prior to reading Blue Lily, Lily Blue. Every detail from the previous two books were fresh. And the words, pages, chapters that I read in Blue Lily, Lily Blue shocked me. From the new elements to the terrific details, it felt like a thriller, forcing me to anticipate what was on the next page. If I was a nail-biter from being anxious, I probably wouldn’t have any nails left. But from within all of that, I laughed and I simply enjoyed. A good book is hard to put down, and Blue Lily, Lily Blue was fantastic.

I highly urge you to read Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater. You will not regret it.

Notable Scene:

An unfamiliar voice chanted in her head, strident and wry and sing-song:

“Queens and kings

Kings and queens

Blue lily, lily blue

Crowns and birds

Swords and things

Blue lily, lily blue”

Suddenly, she focused. She was calla again.

Now she saw what Maura had seen: three sleepers – light, dark and in between. The knowledge that Artemus was underground. The certainty that no one was coming out of those coverns unless fetched. The realization that Blue and her friends were part of something huger, something vast and stretching and slowly waking —

The Raven Cycle Series:

1. The Raven Boys

2. The Dream Thieves

3. Blue Lily, Lily Blue

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FTC Advisory: Scholastic provided me with a copy of Blue Lily, Lily Blue.  No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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Book Talk: 3 More Books That Deserve More Recognition

November 15th, 2014 @ 12:01 am
Posted by Kaitlin under Book Talk Tags: Catherine Fisher, Goddess Boot Camp, Goddess In Time, Incarceron, Incarceron Series, L.J. Smith, Oh. My. Gods., Oh. My. Gods. Series, Sapphique, Tera Lynn Childs, The Secret Circle Series, Young Adult

Awhile back I created a video titled 3 Books That Deserve More Recognition. Well, now I have three more! These books are wonderful, but if I ask someone if they have read them, they’ll reply “Which one?”

With this post I hope to sway at least one reader towards one of these books. These are all fantasy, but certain ones are more mature and the other focuses on humor and staying within the mindset of a teenage girl.

1. The Secret Circle Series by L. J. Smith

The Secret Circle The Initiation and The Captive Part IThe Secret Circle The Captive Part II and The PowerThe Secret Circle The DivideThe Secret Circle The HuntThe Secret Circle The Temptation

L. J. Smith is a popular author, it’s true. But most of the fame goes to The Vampire Diaries, a book that was also transformed into a popular television show. I found that series boring, and frankly, confusing. I stopped reading after three or four books in, however, The Secret Circle surprised and impressed me. There is something about it that makes me reread the series again and again, so by now my copies have been beat through something like six rereads! They tried to turn this one into a TV show, too, but the ratings began to lower and the cost of filming was too high so they ended it. I was actually a fan of that one, and the casting was pretty good. Don’t be turned off by the cover!

I can’t place my finger on the allure I have for these books. Maybe it’s the writing style, a hauntingly beautiful sort of prose that lets you imagine exactly what the author’s describing. Maybe it’s that I am a sucker for the kind of witchcraft that includes herbs and nature and that sort of thing. Maybe it’s the way that although there isn’t a ton of action, you can read for hours without being bored. Or, possibly, it’s the connection you feel with the main character and the way that all the other side ones that distinct, intriguing personalities. Either way, I love it.

2. The Incarceron Series by Catherine Fisher

incarceronSapphique

This book is about a prison that is alive. How cool is that? In a world where ideas for books are running out, this novel stands out. This is probably the most adult of the books. It deals with more sensitive subjects through the eyes of someone who has seen death and pain and has learned to do harsh things to get by. It is interesting, and I could relate the writing style to something between Cassandra Clare and Jennifer Nielsen. Incarceron captured my attention quickly. There was a plot that had many ups, downs, and twists. The complexity of the series was vast and the message powerful, with something raw and untamed shining through the pages. The tone was dark and I enjoyed it.

3. The Oh. My. Gods. Series by Tera Lynn Childs

Oh. My. Gods.Goddess Boot CampGoddess In Time

This series is for lovers of Percy Jackson. It has around the same premise of the Greek gods existing and having children and whatnot, with a different play on the idea. It is definitely for the YA genre, that’s for sure. It’s funny and enjoyable, with a cute romance and major plot twist at the end that was sort of predictable but still lots of fun. The second book was just as good, with more emphasis on the powers and struggles of being a descendant of a Greek god.

Teenage girls will eat this up. I could relate to the main character really well. Though I’ve read Forgive My Fins and some of her other series, this one is by far my favorite, though it doesn’t seem as popular. There is also a novella that was created that centers in on some of the questions that weren’t answered in the Goddess Boot Camp book (the second and last in the series). Personally, I found this a lot of fun and great for a summer day at the beach!

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Review: The Invisible by Amelia Kahaney

November 14th, 2014 @ 12:01 am
Posted by Bridget under Review Tags: Amelia Kahaney, Brokenhearted Series, Review, Science Fiction, The Invisible, Young Adult

The InvisibleTitle: The Invisible

Author: Amelia Kahaney

Genre: YA Science Fiction

Series: Brokenhearted (Book #2)

Publication Date: October 7, 2014

Format: Hardcover, 304 Pages

ISBN-10: 0062231928 (HarperTeen)

ISBN-13: 978-0062231925 (HarperTeen)

Reviewed by: Bridget

Synopsis:

In the riveting sequel to the reimagined superhero story The Brokenhearted, Anthem Fleet takes on a powerful new villain and makes some startling discoveries about her family and her past that will forever change her.

Taking up where The Brokenhearted ended, the sequel finds Anthem Fleet attempting to return to a normal life after an experimental surgery that left her with a bionic hummingbird heart and a terrifying new strength. But she can’t shake her suspicions about her father’s connection to the Syndicate and she can’t ignore the cries of help in the crime-ridden city of Bedlam. She finds new promise in her relationship with Ford, but after his lifesaving surgery, the Ford Anthem knew slips away.

When a mysterious new group called “The Invisible” starts attacking the privileged North Siders, Anthem has to step up and be the New Hope that Bedlam needs, or Bedlam will fall…once and for all.

Publishers Weekly called The Brokenhearted an “atmospheric, adventure-laced debut” with “graceful world-building, strong characterizations, and an enveloping plot.”

Quick & Dirty: A unique YA story that features one of my favorite things: Superheroes!!! While I didn’t love everything about this one it was still a really fun read and I would highly recommend it!

Opening Sentence: Spring has finally come in Bedlam, and the air in the arena smells like newly blooming roses, popcorn, and manure.

Excerpt: No

The Review:

Anthem Fleet is trying to get used to her new life. After an experimental surgery that left her with superhuman powers, she has become an unidentified hero in the dangerous city of Bedlam. The gap between the wealthy and the poor continues to grow every single day. The privileged people live in the North side while the poor live in the South side. The crime is at an all time high and then a new group called “The Invisible” start attacking the wealthy. They are ruthless and don’t care what or who the causalities are in their venture to fulfill their goal of making the two sides of the city more equal. The mysterious leader of “The Invisible” continues to wreak havoc and leave cryptic messages to all those rich enough to live on the North Side. The only hope left for the city to survive is Anthem. Her new abilities will be tested and if she isn’t strong enough then all of Bedlam will be destroyed including everyone Anthem loves.

Anthem is an amazing heroine and I actually liked her much better in this book versus the first one. She has really grown into someone that I felt could be a true hero. She lost the whiny/vengeful attitude that she previously had and she is just more about protecting the innocent. She is a smart, beautiful girl that grew up in a privileged home. She’s not perfect and like all great characters she has flaws that make her feel more realistic. I was so glad that I was able to connect with her much better and I am excited to see where her story goes next.

Ford was easily one of my favorite characters in the first book. He is such a great guy with a heroic heart. The bravery he shows is very admirable and I just couldn’t help but love him. But I was really disappointed with his character in this installment. Honestly, he is hardly in the book at all and I felt that the only reason he was even included was so that there would be some kind of romance in the story. Speaking of the romance I thought that it felt very rushed. It was really hot and cold which didn’t make sense to me. Anthem and Ford had an amazing connection in the first book and instead of expounding on that I felt that the author tried to force the romance instead of letting it develop naturally. It’s not that I don’t love these two together because I do, but all the things I loved about them in the first book were missing in this one. I was truly disappointed with the way Ford’s character was developed and I really hope that we can get back to the Ford I loved in the first book.

Invisible is a fast paced story with engaging characters, intense action, and a just overall entertaining. There were moments throughout the story where I did get a little confused as to what was going on, but for the most part everything flowed really well. There were some great plot twists that I wasn’t expecting, which is always a huge plus for me. The villain was a huge plus for me, not only was he totally creepy but he was very well done. Obviously I unfortunately wasn’t a fan of the romance but I think there is hope that it will get better in the next book. While I feel like I am being pretty negative about this book, overall it really was a great read. It obviously had some serious flaws but the one thing it really has going for it is that it is memorable. Even thought I didn’t love the first book, I can still recall pretty much everything that happened a year after reading it and I feel that it will be the same for the second book. Personally, I haven’t read hardly any young adult books that feature superheroes, and I honestly don’t know why because I love them. Because it is unique and very entertaining, I still would highly recommend this series — even with all its flaws!!!

Notable Scene:

Just then, something white passes in front of my face and lands on my knee, between the folds of my plaid Cathedral uniform skirt. A flower. I pick it up and examine it. It’s a cut daisy, the stem about an inch long. I look up at the ceiling. There’s a black tarp hanging there, in the very center of the chapel, fastened at three corners. A few more daisies spill from one of the corners.

It isn’t like Cathedral to do something like this. Especially not inside the chapel, which is reserved for solemn morning masses and dignified graduations and award ceremonies.

Was this Principal Bang’s idea? I turn to Z and point upward, rolling my eyes. But then another corner of the tarp comes undone, and we’re all doused in daisies. And along with the daisies, tiny slips of paper.

Debbie is still making her speech, but I’m not listening until she stops and screams out, “WHAT IS THIS?”

She waves a slip of paper in her hand. Everyone is picking daisies out of their hair, rumbles of conversation growing louder.

“Is this a prank?” Debbie yells. “It’s not funny, you guys!”

I pick up one of the slips from the ground and my blood freezes in my veins when I read the words, hand-scrawled in blue ballpoint: Like the humble daisy, The Invisible grow every time it rains. Expect us, children. We are everywhere.

The Brokenhearted Series:

1. The Brokenhearted

2. The Invisible

FTC Advisory: HarperTeen provided me with a copy of The Invisible.  No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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Review: Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper

November 13th, 2014 @ 12:01 am
Posted by Kaitlin under Review Tags: Fantasy, Kendall Kulper, Review, Salt & Storm, Young Adult

Salt and StormTitle: Salt & Storm

Author: Kendall Kulper

Genre: YA Fantasy

Series: N/A

Publication Date: September 23, 2014

Format: Hardcover, 416 Pages

ISBN-10: 0316404519 (LB Teen)

ISBN-13: 978-0316404518 (LB Teen)

Reviewed by: Kaitlin

Synopsis:

A sweeping historical romance about a witch who foresees her own murder–and the one boy who can help change her future.

Sixteen-year-old Avery Roe wants only to take her rightful place as the witch of Prince Island, making the charms that keep the island’s whalers safe at sea, but her mother has forced her into a magic-free world of proper manners and respectability. When Avery dreams she’s to be murdered, she knows time is running out to unlock her magic and save herself.

Avery finds an unexpected ally in a tattooed harpoon boy named Tane–a sailor with magic of his own, who moves Avery in ways she never expected. Becoming a witch might stop her murder and save her island from ruin, but Avery discovers her magic requires a sacrifice she never prepared for.

Quick & Dirty: This story was atmospheric and beautifully written. Unfortunately, it was also paced very slowly, which lessened my enjoyment.

Opening Sentence: Despite my mother’s best efforts, I never forgot the day my grandmother taught me how to tie the winds.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Welcome to Avery Roe’s world. She is a living legacy, heir to the great sea witches that have descended back in time. The sea witches protect the islanders, they have great power. They can wield storms and lives, but at a price. Avery is supposed to become the next sea witch, until her mother steals her away, determined to take her away from her destiny just as her mother had chosen to leave magic years ago. Avery wants to be the sea witch, but she doesn’t have power and she can’t get away from her mother. But then, a dream: she will be murdered. It has been prophesied and there is no way out unless she manages to escape and find her grandmother to teach her how to use magic. Because once you become the Roe witch, you cannot be killed. A boy named Tane with foreign magic may be her only chance.

Salt and Storm was a slow read, for me. Slow plot, slow romance, slow plot twists. However, this wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. I was intrigued enough to read on even in the most lagging parts, because of the strong world-building and interesting plot. I was very unsure of how it would go down, and honestly I am not surprised that the author wielded the ending the way she did. It was tragic but an exciting twist that made sense in the long run. Anyway, one of the things I liked the most about Salt and Storm was the rich backstory to Avery’s family. It was complicated, but I was extremely drawn in by the prospect of sea witches and a lineage that went that far back. I also was intrigued by the town and how it functioned, it’s strong economic interest in whaling. The whole idea of it reminded me of Moby Dick, in a way. The rich imagery created to describe the water and the whales made me imagine them clearly in my mind.

Avery and Tane had a budding love that took a while to develop. I had heard beforehand that it was a “slow burn” but it felt kind of awkward between them at first. Their conversations seemed forced and they didn’t have many of them. There was no obvious click, nothing that stood out to me as real chemistry. As they began to know each other, their connection grew deeper and less strange to me. I grew to enjoy them as a couple, enough for the story and a star of my review tone saved. Their love took half the book to develop into even a kiss but when it did, it was intensely passionate. They might have took a while to act on their feelings but when they did, they hit the ground running.

How do I feel about the twist? The truth uncovered about the sea witches and the way they find their powers? Well, the twist was sort of predictable. I saw it coming from the beginning but it still had an impact on me. I was very sad, that’s all I’ll say, though I didn’t cry as I do when I’m very emotional. The way that sea witches come into their magic was extremely surprising though I suppose there were hints — hints that I should have caught onto. But, be it as it was, I didn’t catch on until late in the plot line when it was being given away. Great detective skills, eh?

Overall, I enjoyed Salt and Storm. It was a book with lots of intrigue, but it was very slow. I’d imagine that if more action was added and the plot was sped up a little I would have crossed the boundaries to loving it, but sadly that was not the case. Avery was a determined female lead, even in the face of desperate times, and her voice was beautifully written. The idea of a sea witch was wonderful and unique, and I loved all the descriptions of the oceans and the waters and their cabin. I could imagine standing on the cliff, looking out onto the water, with all the beautiful imagery in the story. The scene and world building was rich, and I was very interested in the Roe’s past — actually, maybe a little more than Avery Roe herself to be honest. Her story was exciting and different but it moved at a snail’s pace. This book could have easily cut off a large chunk and would have been just as good, probably better. Tane himself I wasn’t a huge fan of. I didn’t hate him, but their wasn’t much allure either. This also lowered my interest in the novel. In the end I would encourage very patient readers to delve into this story. If you stick it out and push through boring parts, it really is worth it. With all my complaining about the slowness, I really did feel close to the characters and was crushed at the end. (Not that the end didn’t deliver. It was just sad.) Oh, and look at the beautiful rich colors on the cover! Happy reading!

Notable Scene:

I hate her. I hate her. I wanted to scream at her, at her lies and her duplicity, pretending to be nothing but a gentlewomen, sweet and caring and good. I wanted to leap across the room and rip the paper from her hands and shout at her that Tommy almost died, died, because of her! But I know what would happen then. She would stare at me, cool as a pitcher of water, letting me get excited, letting me get scared, letting me admit that I tried to defy her. And then she would have every excuse to pack me up and send me off to the mainland- to keep me away from magic, to keep me safe. If I wanted to beat my mother, I would have to play her game. I didn’t blink.

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FTC Advisory:  Little Brown Books for Young Readers/Hachette Book Group provided me with a copy of Salt & Storm.  No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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Review: The Immortal Crown by Richelle Mead

November 12th, 2014 @ 12:01 am
Posted by Steph under Review Tags: Age of X Series, Review, Richelle Mead, The Immortal Crown, Urban Fantasy

Immortal CrownTitle: The Immortal Crown

Author: Richelle Mead

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Series: Age of X (Book #2)

Publication Date: May 29, 2014

Format: Hardcover, 432 Pages

ISBN-10: 0525953698 (Dutton/Penguin)

ISBN-13: 978-0525953692 (Dutton/Penguin)

Reviewed by: Steph

Synopsis:

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Vampire Academy and Bloodline series returns with the second installment in her acclaimed Age of X series.

Gameboard of the Gods introduced religious investigator Justin March and Mae Koskinen, the beautiful supersoldier assigned to protect him. Together they have been charged with investigating reports of the supernatural and the return of the gods, both inside the Republic of United North America and out. With this highly classified knowledge comes a shocking revelation: Not only are the gods vying for human control, but the elect—special humans marked by the divine—are turning against one another in bloody fashion.

Their mission takes a new twist when they are assigned to a diplomatic delegation headed by Lucian Darling, Justin’s old friend and rival, going into Arcadia, the RUNA’s dangerous neighboring country. Here, in a society where women are commodities and religion is intertwined with government, Justin discovers powerful forces at work, even as he struggles to come to terms with his own reluctantly acquired deity.

Meanwhile, Mae—grudgingly posing as Justin’s concubine—has a secret mission of her own: finding the illegitimate niece her family smuggled away years ago. But with Justin and Mae resisting the resurgence of the gods in Arcadia, a reporter’s connection with someone close to Justin back home threatens to expose their mission—and with it the divine forces the government is determined to keep secret.

Quick & Dirty: Justin and Mae travel to Arcadia, where they will come face to face with another powerful elect. Will they be able to return safely to the RUNA?

Opening Sentence: Mae Koskinen was one of her country’s most elite soldiers.

Excerpt: No

The Review:

Dang, Richelle Mead knows how to end a book! I can tell you right now, you’re going to wish book 3 was available when you finish this one. I was looking forward to reading this book even though I thought the first one was a bit confusing at times. I’m so glad that I didn’t let my issues with the first book stop me from reading this one!

Justin and Mae are continuing their work investigating potential religious cults in the provinces. Upon returning to the RUNA after one such trip, Justin meets with Lucian Darling, who tells him he’s putting together a delegation for a diplomatic visit to Arcadia, one of the RUNA’s biggest rivals. Seeing as Arcadia’s government is centered around one religion, Lucian would like Justin to join the delegation. Justin initially refuses, but Mae convinces him they should go.

Mae has her own motives for wanting to go to Arcadia. She has long been searching for her niece, who she knows is in Arcadia. An unknown god has been sending Mae visions of where her niece is located, and while this worries Mae, she hopes that the visions are accurate and that this trip will give her the opportunity to find her niece.

Thus begins what is going to be a very long trip. Not only is Arcadia religiously restrictive, it also has very old fashioned ideas about women, giving them no rights whatsoever. Since the RUNA’s delegation would not be taken seriously if women were brought along as soldiers, Mae must pose as Justin’s concubine. This makes it very hard for Mae to search for her niece. Justin faces his own difficulties when dealing with the country’s religious leader, who he discovers is a very powerful elect. Justin must deal with him while trying to hide his own elect status. Between his interactions with the Arcadian religious leader and his continued attempts to keep from becoming tied to Odin, Justin has his hands full. This trip is certainly not going to be boring!

One problem I had with the first book in the series is that it seemed to thrust the reader into this world with very little explanation as to how the world operates. It took me forever to figure out what was going on. Thankfully, in this book, Richelle Mead does a better job of spelling things out, so I now feel I have a much better handle on how things work. This also resulted in me getting caught up in the action much quicker than I did when reading the first book.

My feelings towards the main characters has also improved. I thought Justin was much more likeable this time around. A big reason for this is that the trip to Arcadia doesn’t allow Justin the opportunity to continue his womanizing and drug taking, something which made it very hard for me to like him in the first book. It was really nice to see him clear headed in this book.

I also warmed up towards Mae. In her search for her niece, we get to see a much softer side to Mae, which was nice. She can still kick butt, which she proves on more than one occasion, but the added vulnerability gave much greater depth to her character, which I really appreciated.

By and large, I found this book much more enjoyable and accessible than the first book in the series. By the end of the book, I was completely hooked and didn’t want it to end. And by the way the book ended, I really wish book 3 was here already!

Notable Scene:

Relax, Magnus said. Expand your senses. Think of me. Think of becoming me.

You’re going to turn me into a bird? Justin asked him.

Not exactly. Just try to let go of your own body. Focus on mine, on wings, on flight, on my essence.

It wasn’t easy, and not just because of the metaphysical nature of the task. Justin had never seen Magnus physically-well, not since a brief glimpse on a smoky night. But Justin did his best to focus on that memory and what he knew of the raven now, of his personalty and nature. Magnus talked him through it, guiding Justin’s mind and breathing until time and his surroundings faded away. A strange euphoria began to fill Justin’s body, an indescribable power like nothing he’d ever felt, though it reminded him of the high brought about by some of the sketchier drugs he’d taken in his life.

Suddenly, Justin had a sense of emergence, like he was breaking through a barrier or bursting from water. The room snapped into focus, clearer and more vivid than before as he looked down on it…and himself.

There he was, still on the bed. His body sat in the same cross-legged position, but his blank, staring eyes were like those of someone stoned or comatose. The weirdness of it started to break Justin’s control, but Magnus talked him back.

That’s only your body, your common physical form, the raven said. You’re sharing mine now. The parts of you that matter, your soul and your essence, are in this form. You’re safe. You’ll return to your body…eventually.

Justin looked around the room again and became aware that he was circling it, gliding and hovering on large, black wings. By the door, Mae stared up at him with wide eyes, and while she didn’t look scared, per se, she certainly appeared a little disbelieving.

She can see us, he told Magnus.

Yes. We’re in my physical form. You don’t have the strength or power to go in my invisible form, unfortunately.

What is that…joy I feel? Justin asked. That bliss? Is it just that awesome being a raven?

Well, yes, said Horatio.

Are you in this body too? Justin asked, startled.

Magnus answered. No, but we are always joined. Thought and memory cannot be separated. As for that bliss, that is what it feel like to open yourself up to Odin. Now come. You won’t be able to stay in this state all night, and we need to go.

Justin flew toward the open window, leaving a gawking Mae behind, unsure whether he or Magnus was the one fully in control.

At times, as they flew through the darkening twilight toward the lights of downtown Divinia, Justin felt as though he were indeed the one powering those strong wings. Other times, it seemed as though he were merely a rider. Regardless of who was in control, that glorious feeling remained, burning within him.

You’ve spent your whole life seeking the next best high from drugs or the arms of a woman, Magnus told him. When all along, all you had to was surrender to the god who wants you. Easier, isn’t it?

That’s questionable, Justin responded. I can control when I take the drug. I can walk away from the woman. Something tells me that once I give in to Odin, there’s no going back.

You won’t want to, Magnus assured him.

Age of X Series:

1. Gameboard of the Gods

2. The Immortal Crown

crow4

FTC Advisory: Dutton/Penguin provided me with a copy of The Immortal Crown. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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